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Needing cold hard facts and logistics for after mom dies.
July 27, 2011 1:00 PM   Subscribe

What happens and what to do when I hear my mom dies 1,500+ miles away. What will the landlord do in the short term? Where does her body go? What happens to the cat? The medical bills? How do I unload fine art?

These are things people never think about, and I have only the slightest idea of how this will play out. I imagine someone will discover she has died, a coroner will be called, her body will be taken...somewhere...until I am notified. I'm in the boondocks; it could take me a few days to get there. I have questions. But first, some perhaps-relevant details:

-She may die soon, wants cremation, no service, no funeral;
-She may be at home, by herself, on her terms, expecting nobody;
-She has a will for which I am executor, and has told me where it is;
-There is no house, no car, just stuff, a cat, an IRA, a small bank account, some art and a couple of low-value lots in another state;
-There will be medical bills, likely lots of them;
-She has very few friends, a long-estranged faraway sibling and no spouse;
-We are not close, and talk superficially about 2x/mo;
-I've offered to handle things because a) she has nobody else, and b) it's the last best thing I can do for her;
-I have a sibling in the area, estranged from his mother, and he doesn't care to be involved in any way (other than to perhaps put me up, feed me and help me move things with his truck). He will be supportive of me, wants nothing and won't fight the will;
-I more or less know the town, and have friends there.

And so...

Her body: Do I have to involve a funeral director if there will be no funeral? (and is one engaged automatically without consent?). Assuming she's with the county coroner, can/will they cremate her before I arrive if I instruct them to do so? How much does the process cost, from death to the tin of ashes handed across the counter?

Her apartment w/cat: What does a corporate landlord (in a decent neighborhood) do when someone dies? Do they keep the unit secure for a period of time? Will they allow me access? Are there services to empty a place down to the last roll of toilet paper, especially if I want to donate the contents? And how about the cat? Will the landlords at least try to do right by the kitty and see if I can find a home for it? If so, who cares for the kitty until I get there?

Her bills: I guess there will be many outstanding medical bills, and more coming in the mail probably for several months. There is no money to pay them. Do I just mark all mail with "Addressee deceased: return to sender"? Can children be held financially culpable? What about credit card and other bills? Can I just return the mail and not introduce myself into the equation?

Her stuff: If the will is simple and straightforward and there are no complications, is there any reason to engage an attorney? If not, what do banks (savings+IRA) need from me? How do I transfer ownership of the lots in the other state? Does probate come into play? What is the best thing to do with stuff, specifically art (e.g., engage a broker of some kind? a gallery owner? an estate auction house? is there a really good method for donating art?).

If I need an attorney at any point, what kind does one get? And for the property...would I need one in both states?

I appreciate your input, your useful links, your experiences on this fact-gathering mission...
posted by AnOrigamiLife to Law & Government (26 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
You can arrange for a number of things beforehand (which I suppose you're sort of doing by asking this question) - especially funeral (or lack thereof) arrangements.

If it is imminent enough, perhaps a call to your landlord to say "When it happens, you need to call me and xxxxx immediately" (of course you'll still need to figure out who to call, but I'm mentioning this so you know it might be worthwhile to talk to the landlord in advance of this).

Start compiling phone numbers/addresses for people who might want to go to the funeral.

Like planning anything, the more you can do in advance the better.
posted by backwards guitar at 1:09 PM on July 27, 2011


Regarding the cat (can't speak much to the other stuff, as I don't have the relevant experience), if your mother knows she "may die soon" it is probably well worth starting to look for a new home NOW. If you wait until Mom actually passes away, the cat is very likely to end up getting lost in the logistical shuffle of things, which poses huge risks for kitties, especially adult kitties (I presume this isn't a young kitten here).

The cat doesn't have to leave your mom's place immediately, of course, and that would be a terrible idea if your mom & cat are bonded and enjoy each other's company, especially during a part of life when people are often very alone. But if you could set it up so there will be someone to come pick up the cat as soon as the need arises, that would REALLY help take a load off your mind and probably your mom's as well. It is a sad truth that frequently when a cat's human dies, the cat dies shortly afterward for the mere fact that s/he is homeless.
posted by aecorwin at 1:13 PM on July 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


I can only speak to the cat bit. The cat will likely end up at Animal Control. (Assuming your mother dies at home, the police would presumably be called and they'd call Animal Control.) Here, Animal Control will only release pets whose owners have died with the permission of the owner's family. (On the plus side, they don't charge an impound fee, which they do for lost pets.) After seven days, they are either put up for adoption or euthanised. If you or your mother cares what happens to the cat, it's probably worth enlisting your sibling or one of your mother's friends beforehand to go get the cat, rather than having 'find someone and fax Animal Control' on the to do list. (Heck, you can try to convince your mother to write a letter authorising whoever it is to collect the cat upon her death. They might take that.)

I think the estate (an entity unto itself) is responsible for the bills. I don't know how that's handled, though.
posted by hoyland at 1:15 PM on July 27, 2011


My Mom has dementia and I am caring for her. When we saw the way things were going we hired an attorney and got all the paperwork set up (power of attorney, health care wishes, will, trust, etc.) Mom's estate is somewhat complicated but the attorney charged a flat fee and has been kind enough to answer simple questions over the last couple of years without additional charge.

If you can't afford to hire an attorney, you could get your Mom set up with simple forms from Nolo Press to fill out--they cover alot.

The Neptune Society does cremation inexpensively and gives a discount for pre-planning, veterans, etc. Or, if she's willing to donate her body to a school they will pay for cremation when they are done with her.

Ask your Mom to gather all her important papers into one binder, briefcase, box, etc.

If she uses a computer to banking, etc. Be sure to get her passwords.

Ask her to add you to her accounts and to designate you as the beneficiary on the accounts that can be done in one visit to the bank.

Arrange with her that you will do "welfare check" calls with her at a specific time each day. If she doesn't answer, you will call the landlord or local police to check on her.

Find a cat rescue organization nearby who will agree to pick up the cat right away (perhaps a small donation?).

Make sure if she want a Do Not Resusitate order, that it is posted in the home so if EMTs are called they won't try to bring her back (if that is what she wants). All her healthcare/end of life wishes should be spelled out.

The books on Nolo have many more helpful pieces of info.
posted by agatha_magatha at 1:20 PM on July 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


Contact the landlords and see if they will agree in writing to take the cat to a vet or boarding facility in the event of your mother's death. Figure out which facility you want to use and get a written arrangement with them set up; they will probably want you to pre-pay for a certain amount of time. Give the vet an authorized list of people to whom the cat can be released, in case the it needs to go to a friend's home. As people above have said, finding a home for it now is a good idea.

I wouldn't trust that building managers or landlords will take care of the cat adequately, unless they're cat lovers or the type of people who have a strong relationship with your mother. Also, if there are a lot of people coming and going from the apartment, it's a bad combination of freaked-out cat and lots of chances to escape.

You can also ask the landlords for a copy of what their policies are when a resident dies. If it's a corporate setup, they almost certainly have something in place.
posted by corey flood at 1:22 PM on July 27, 2011


As far as I know you have to involve a funeral director for the cremation piece even if you're not planning a service of any sort. The coroner will release the body to which ever one you choose--and there's likely a pretty big variation in price and overall level of service. I'd call a bunch of conveniently located ones ahead of time (ie. now) to get pricing and logistics under control.

Ditto what everyone above said about the cat.

Dunno about either the apartment or the bills, but I imagine you'll have a few months of having to sort through that stuff and that people will be generally pretty understanding.

(ColdChef is a funeral director and may be able to help you with some of these questions, or not, don't know him, just know that's his job).
posted by togdon at 1:22 PM on July 27, 2011


Regarding the cat rescue, I meant right after your Mom passes, not taking her kitty away now.

I second the idea of having a phone list prepared.
posted by agatha_magatha at 1:23 PM on July 27, 2011


Definitely contact the landlord. At my mom's senior housing there is a set routine when someone dies, and they immediately rekey the apartment so that no one will have access -- and if you are not on the proper list and/or have the proper legal paperwork they will not let you in. So you should check to see if anything like that might happen at your mom's place.

Also -- you're really smart to be thinking about this stuff now.
posted by BlahLaLa at 1:23 PM on July 27, 2011


You do not need to engage a funeral director. The place she is cremated (has she already arranged this?) will give the cremains to you, next of kin, and you can do with them whatever you please.

Depending on where your mother is (is she in a large city?) a not-for-profit thrift store, especially one associated with the homeless or veterans will pick up everything useful down to the TP. Call a few places beforehand and explain the situation. Get names. When your mom dies, call back and ask for that person.

As for fine art, again, if she's in a city, there's usually an appraiser or two. Call in advance, explain the imminent situation and get names. If it's fine art, they are happy to come out (for a fee) do an appraisal and then, possibly take them off your hands.

Have your mom WRITE the landlord and have her cc you on the letter and send you a copy. She should let them know that you are next of kin and to allow you access. If she ends up in the hospital at all, this won't be a problem as you may make it to her bedside and then you'll have keys. Have your mom send you a set of keys as well.

I'm trying to think of all of the other useful things I've learned in doing this before and I'll pop back in if I think of anything. Feel free to PM me if you have any other specific questions.
posted by Sophie1 at 1:24 PM on July 27, 2011


Disposition of the estate depends on what jurisdiction you are in (in the U.S., by state, you are in Canada so check the provincial laws). You will probably want the services of a lawyer - if the one who did her will is her regular lawyer, that would be a useful person to talk to. S/he will know the different levels of estate disposition. If the estate is under a certain amount, e.g, $5000 or $10000, you can probably bypass probate.

If your mother is terminally ill, she may be under hospice care. The hospice folks are an excellent resource for you, please get in touch with them. If she is not under hospice care, speak to her (if she is still lucid) and her doctor to determine if it is a good option. If she is lucid, see how much she is willing to put under your disposition before she passes, e.g, powers of attorney to bank accounts, medical PoA, what happens to the cat, etc.

If you are unsure whether you want to be by her side in her last few weeks on earth, I would suggest that you would not regret it if you chose to go to her. I went through this all several months ago and this was more important than I could have anticipated.

Also, ditto what several people said above. Mostly arrange everything in advance as much as you can.
posted by matildaben at 1:25 PM on July 27, 2011


Hey I just did this! Not exactly the same but not entirely different. Let me tell you what happened.

My father died at home, suddenly. He was found by his housekeeper who called the cops and his friend. The friend called me. The cops asked what I wanted done with the body. There was one funeral home in town and we called them [or the cops did, or the friend did, I can't remember]. I had to verbally give the cops permission to leave the house in the care of my dad's friend [meaning they were leaving and I had said it was okay to leave his friend there]. There was a medical examiner involved who had to determine cause of death which has to go on the death certificate. This varies by state but if a death is unattended this is usally part of it. I don't know about getting cremation without involving a funeral home since that's the way we did it and it was a few grand, not much more, and that included small graveside services at the cemetery. I do know to get a ton of copies of the death certificate. Also you may want to write an obit for the local paper or funeral home page if you go that way. If she had friends or family who might like that, it's a kind thing to do. I talked to ColdChef and he was helpful.

Figure out asap what will happen to the cat. The landlords are under no obligation to deal with the cat. We had my dad's friend come in to care for the cats until we could come down and pick them up. There are services that will auction off the contents of apartments. I don't know so much about that.

There is a weird timeline in terms of the will. I just got appointed executor this week and my father died in May. Part of the delay was getting the tox screening done that the medical examiner required and part of it was just paperwork. You can do some of this yourself, I had a lawyer. I'm not sure what is involved if you don't have a lawyer. The bills will still, in many cases, be owed by "the estate" which becomes a legal entity after the will is officially filed and will be a legal entity until everything is sorted which can take up to a year or more [i.e. if there is money coming to you, the bills need to be settled first in most cases, this is the sort of thing that a lawyer is very very helpful with. The estate will also owe taxes mostl likely]. Part of the reason this takes a while is that xcreditors have up to a year to let the estat eknow how much it owes them. I am oversimplifying here but I would not preume that the bills can go unpaid. You can get a lawyer in the state your mom lives in, and get one that does "wills and trusts" this is a fairly general soecialty and should not be difficult to find. They will usually have you pay them a retainer and then let you know about how much they'd expect this sort of thing to cost. If you are the executor then no, you can't not put yourself in the equation. You ARE the equation. I had allmy dad's mail forwarded to me and dealt with the bills as they came in, cancelling subscriptions and notifying people.

Once the will is filed and you are the offical executor, you can go to banks and etc with copies of the will paperwork and the death certificate and get things put into your name, or the estate's name [the latter, I am pretty sure] and start moving forward. I read a lot online about basic things to do and found a lot of questions here on AskMe for general adivce. I'd be cautious about the money stuff. There are taxes involved, a lot of people who expect to get paid, and a lot of rules that you wouldn't expect to have to deal with. Having a lawyer who can use email and is good at explaining stuff has been key to my last few months not being entirely terrible, so if you are in a position to not skimp here, I'd suggest a good lawyer more than almost anything. You could, now, get durable power of attorney and heath care proxy paperwork in case she is incapacitated before she dies and needs someone to legally be able to do things for her. She could put your name on her bank account now, for example, and you could use it to pay bills.

And lastly, even though you and your mom are sort of in not-much contact, this might hit you in a weird way, so give yourself some room and time to work some stuff out on your own.
posted by jessamyn at 1:25 PM on July 27, 2011 [14 favorites]


You'll need copies of her death certificate, which the coroner can provide, to handle the bank account and IRA. Those assets (and any others you convert to cash by selling them) will go towards her outstanding bills. That, in a nutshell, is what the executor does. Oh, and you'll need far more copies of the death certificate than you think. You'll probably need one to cancel her lease, and one to close each credit card and utility account, one to get access to her out-of-state property, etc. etc.

IIRC, the cost for cremation (which is probably done by a funeral home, not the coroner) is somewhere around $1000 - $1500. Pretty expensive for sure, but far less than a casket and a funeral.

You'll probably also want to submit, when she passes, a change of address form with the post office to have her mail sent to you so you can handle the bills and so on.

As long as she has a valid will, I can't imagine why you'd need an attorney.
posted by DrGail at 1:26 PM on July 27, 2011


Well, first of all I'd get a copy of the will for which you are executor and see what her wishes are exactly.

Second, if you feel she might go at any time, you need an alert system; either someone checking on her or some other signal. An easy one might be "Mom, if I haven't heard from you otherwise, I'm going to call you at 8pm every night to see if you're ok. If you don't answer I'm sending over Sibling to check on you." And then do so.

It's really awful to think of her there for any length of time, and in addition, her cat will go unfed and/or unwatered, which is cruel, if no one's checking at least once every 24 hours.

I am not a lawyer, but I do not believe you can be held accountable for her bills. My mother died two years ago; the bank came and repo'd her car since none of us wanted to assume the note, and none of us have been approached to pay her outstanding bills otherwise.

If her will does not spell out who receives her assets (or her assets aren't set up to go automatically to you and/or sibling) there will be some delay, and you will at some point have to provide a death certificate and I'm guessing signatures from your sibling in order to inherit them.
posted by emjaybee at 1:27 PM on July 27, 2011


One thing to be aware of (apologies if this is an unhelpful level of detail): in the USA you cannot legally be required to buy a casket if the decedent is being cremated. The funeral home will probably not volunteer this information to you, since selling caskets is a big part of how they make their money, but legally all that's required is a cardboard container which they should not charge you more than $5 for.

If you're the sort who finds it comforting to become knowledgeable about what you're facing, you might pick up Jessica Mitford's book The American Way of Death. After my mother's death, when I was helping to make the arrangements, I was very glad I had read it. (The funeral home tried to push us to buy a casket, and my grandmother would have paid for it without question. I pushed back. I prevailed.)
posted by Lexica at 1:30 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hi. I went through this exact scenario a few years ago. I live in Seattle, Mom lived in Wisconsin. However, it sounds like we had more of a support network set up than you do.

1. The very first thing I would do is contact and have a consultation with an Estate Lawyer who lives in the area where your mom lives.

My mom had property, but also outstanding medical bills and credit card debt. The Estate Lawyer can handle the executing of the will, the liquidation of the estate (I chose to sell off her condo and effects, and she arranged for that through a real estate agent in the area), and the payment of bills. Basically, I set up mail forwarding so that all of her mail got sent to the lawyer, and not me. Mine even handled the calls from the collection agencies. They helped me tremendously, especially since I was 2 time zones away, and had no way to uproot my life to take care of it all myself.

2. In terms of cremation, I would talk with her about where she would like it done, and then contact the appropriate funeral home about making pre-arrangements. My mom was also cremated, but she was also at a hospice center. When I finished talking to the funeral home, it was just a matter of letting Hospice know that when she dies, her body should be transferred to place X, and they will take care of it from there. We chose to have a service, but we could have opted for the straight cremation instead. IIRC, my mother's cremation plus the service and wake was around $4,000, but the cremation was only about 1/3 of that expense - but that also included putting her ashes in a decorative urn. That's definitely optional.

3. The Estate Lawyer could probably help with the cat. I used to volunteer at an animal shelter, and I do know that people brought in animals who had their owners pass away on them. It's sadly not an uncommon thing.

But really, an Estate Lawyer for this would be tremendously helpful. Since you have contacts in the town, ask around and see if you can get recommendations. Mine came from a business card passed to me at the funeral by my mom's old receptionist friend.

You have my condolences.
posted by spinifex23 at 1:31 PM on July 27, 2011


Get the number of the landlord, make sure s/he has ways to contact you. Get the number of her doctor, ditto. agatha_magatha has a lot of very good suggestions.

A Do Not Resusitate order can be tricky to obtain, unless she's on hospice. If she has one, PUT IT ON THE REFRIGERATOR. Also, put an 8-1/2x11 sheet of paper ON THE REFRIGERATOR with your information on it. (EMT's will not search around for a DNR order, but -- at least in Washington State -- they always look on the fridge.)

And what about hospice? Does her doctor think she may die within the next 6 months? They can be helpful beyond words, including helping with the cat. They can also advise about a lawyer. If there's property involved, I doubt you can do it yourself. If you don't have a lawyer, you will have an unbelievable amount of paperwork to deal with over about 6 months.

There are other things you can do, like pre-paying for a funeral home to pick up her body, cremate it, and do whatever you want with the ashes. They can also help you get copies of the Death Certificate -- you will need between 6 and 12 notarized copies.

But all these things mean talking to your mother, and if you talk "superficially" twice a month, it may be impossibly daunting to bring them up. On the other hand, she may be relieved to talk about it in a non-emotional way. If you can't talk, can you send a letter? Approaching it through the "I'm concerned about the cat when you go" might be a good way to open the conversation. Memail me if you want to hash out more details.
posted by kestralwing at 1:36 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


If there's bills with no money to pay them, the way it basically works is that you (as the executor) use up all of the money there is (including anything from sale of property) to fairly try to pay as much as you can. After that, you inherit nothing, but neither do you owe the money she couldn't pay. Special circumstances can always change things, but this is the basic outline. Various creditors will certainly lie to you suggesting otherwise. Since you know in advance that there won't be enough cash, I'd suggest three things: (1) be very careful not to mix up your money and the estate's money (2) keep careful records of the estate's money and (3) at least talk to a lawyer so that you find out about exceptions to the rule that apply in this case, and so that when scummy debt collectors try to frighten you, you know your rights and have an attorney to refer them them to if it gets to that point.

If this is coming soon, I'd definitely negotiate some cremation arrangements ahead of time. Even if you are not close, you will be more emotionally vulnerable than you think, and easier prey to a professional trying to shame you out of "just putting your mother in a cardboard box." Right now, you will be able to be a much harder bargainer.

Definitely have a safe place for the cat to land. Is sibling, even though they don't want much involvement, maybe willing to step up and take the cat for few days just until you can get there to deal with it?
posted by tyllwin at 1:55 PM on July 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


You say there's fine art as part of the estate?

And bills?

Could be problematic. If there are works of art you cherish and want to keep, perhaps your mother should make a gift of them to you now. If you sell them after her death, the money may have to go to pay debts. IANAL/IANYL Perhaps you should see one about this.
posted by BlueHorse at 2:04 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


There was an article a few years ago about creditors who would do some really shitty things, including emotional manipulation, to try and get the next of kin of deceased debtors to pay them. Just remember, you are under NO OBLIGATION to pay her bills beyond the proceeds from the liquidation of her estate as executor. And definitely keep your finances and hers separate.
posted by Jon_Evil at 2:06 PM on July 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


If there's pricy art or substantial property, definitely involve a lawyer. Sham "gifts" made now are exactly the sort of thing that can create a crack for creditor's lawyers to get at you personally.
posted by tyllwin at 2:09 PM on July 27, 2011


I was able to pre-arrange with a funeral home for my father to be picked up and cremated at some point in the next 10 years (he had dementia and a heart issue, docs said he could've gone soon, or he could last for 10 years . . .). I made a deposit of $2000, which they put in a bank account until the relevant time were to come. When I made the arrangements, I also gave them all the relevant info that would go on the death certificate (save date and cause of death), and arranged to get 15 copies.

In the end, it was used within 3 months. I signed off stating that the bank account could be closed, and got a check for $200 (the amount of deposit that was not used).

As for the cat . . . at animal shelters that have a foster program, it's especially sad when an animal's owner has died and they end up in the shelter (to think they were loved yesterday, and today for no apparent reason, their person is gone and they are unloved . . .). So the pets of the deceased have a little bit of a special spot for foster parents -- you might be able to contact the animal shelter, get in touch with the foster coordinator, and ask them to see if any foster parents would be willing to foster or just babysit the cat until you are able to get it. Optimally, 2 or 3 fosters would be lined up, in case someone is full or out of town. And if that does work out, know that foster coordinators are busy and crazed and it might be a slow process lining it all up -- but it's not personal.
posted by MeiraV at 2:10 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


IIRC, and this was a few years ago, there was an 'order' as to who got paid first out of the estate. (Also note, this was in Wisconsin).

Top was the Estate Lawyer and the Funeral Home. Also on top was any debts owed to the Federal Government (back taxes, Medicare/medicaid paybacks, etc.). Next was debts owed to state and city governments. Next was medical bills and bank fees.

At the very bottom was credit card debt by private creditors. Consequently, they can be the most insistent and scummy when trying to get their money. I even had one call me asking for money after my father's roommate died and left behind a lot of debt. Needless to say, he didn't get any, and they haven't called me back.
posted by spinifex23 at 2:24 PM on July 27, 2011


You have to pay as many bills as possible from the proceeds of the estate. If there's art you want to keep, maybe she could give it to you in advance. Ask her a bit about happier times in her life. Maybe there will be a poem to read, or a song to sing over her ashes. Even though you are not terribly close, a sense of ritual can be comforting. For those of you dealing with loss, impending loss, and the sheer work of death, you have my very best wishes. This is not easy work.
posted by theora55 at 2:36 PM on July 27, 2011


Before doing anything involving pre-payment, perhaps especially with the Neptune Society, I recommend checking with the Funeral Consumers Alliance, the consumer-protection organization for people who are making funeral arrangements. There may be an FCA affiliate in your mother's state that can help.

I wish I'd known about the FCA when my father died. I paid what I recognize now was an absurd amount for a cremation with no service. I had no idea.

Two FCA staff have written a book, Final Rights, about negotiating the funeral industry in the US. (As it happens, I just got it from the library today.) It's fascinating, comprehensive, and readable, with a hefty state-by-state guide.
posted by sculpin at 2:59 PM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


All of the above advice is nice and probably heartfelt. The problem is that none of the above people can possibly know precisely what should apply in your case and, likely, none of them are lawyers. You need to contact the attorney who drew up her will and ask all of the questions you have asked us. You are going to need the services of a probate attorney (even to tell that you may not have to go through probate) so you should make the relationship now and not find yourself floundering around when you are under the stress of her death and your need to know these things. It will cost some money, but it will be the best money you could spend on this problem. The attorney has dealt with all of these issues before and can either tell you what to expect or send you to the right people to help.

Do it ASAP.
posted by Old Geezer at 8:06 PM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


As a few people have already mentioned in this thread, I am a professional funeral director and I'm happy to answer any questions you might have.

Cremation is a tricky thing. Most states require the written, notarized consent of ALL legal next of kin. That means that you and all of your siblings must fill out the proper paperwork after she dies. Without their permission, you may not be able to cremate. If you can get her to a funeral home before she dies, she can sign for herself, in front of a notary.

Be prepared for extra costs if she's found several days after she dies. The cleanup involved can be quite expensive...another reason to make sure people check in on her.

No one will try to make you buy a casket you don't want. No one will try to make you buy a cremation urn. The $5 cardboard box referred to above will more likely be a $100 cardboard box and the whole process may cost between $1000 and $3000, depending on your area. (anyone wanting to discuss funeral finances is welcome to email me outside of the thread, I don't want to derail it here) Get more death certificates than you think you need. Things always come up.

Have a plan of what you want to do with her cremated remains--scattering, burying, entombing--whatever you wish to do, but think about it now and discuss her wishes with her.

The funeral home will pick up her body, store the body until you can get there, do the cremation, file the legal paperwork for the death certificate, process any insurance she has, notify Social Security, file for any veteran's benefits, coordinate a memorial service (or not), and assist you in writing and filing the obituary.

Again, email me if there are any other body-disposal questions you have. Despite what folks often suggest on MetaFilter, most professional funeral directors are kind, helpful and compassionate--not looking to unfairly charge you for services and products that you don't want.
posted by ColdChef at 9:34 PM on July 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


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